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Physics Research SCI

Scientists build a super battery using quantum mechanics

If you are exasperated by waiting hours for your smartphone to charge, a new research project at the University of Adelaide might change that. Ramsay Fellow, Dr. James Quach, wants to use quantum mechanics’ unique properties to build the fastest charging battery in the world.

Dr. Quach is an expert in the field and he said that the possibility of instantaneous charging is on the horizon. He wants to use the entanglement method.

Entanglement is a phenomenon where two entangled objects share their individual properties with each other, even when spatially separated. Performing an action on one object affects the other object.

This occurs at a molecular level, where normal physics laws do not work. According to Quash, it is because of this property that it is viable to speed up the charging process.

His invention is based on a theory that the more quantum batteries the faster they charge. This does not apply to conventional batteries.

For example, if one quantum battery takes an hour to charge, adding another will decrease the time to 30 minutes. Once developed, it might cut charging times to zero.

“Entanglement is incredibly delicate, it requires very specific conditions – low temperatures and an isolated system – and when those conditions change the entanglement disappears,” Quash said. With the support of the academic community in Adelaide, interstate and globally, his goal is to extend the theory of the quantum battery and build a lab conducive to the conditions for entanglement to materialize.

 

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Physics Research SCI

Excited atoms illuminate anti-hydrogen research in new study

A new study from CERN breaks new ground in antihydrogen research by increasing the efficiency of its synthesis. This leads to the accumulation of anti-atoms for the first time ever, which increases the scope of experimentation.

“When an excited atom relaxes, it emits light of a characteristic colour, the yellow colour of sodium street lights is an everyday example of this,” said Mike Charlton, co-author of the study.

“When the atom is hydrogen, which is a single electron and a single proton, and the excited electron decays to the lowest energy state from a higher one, the discrete series of ultraviolet light emitted forms the Lyman Series, which is named after Theodore Lyman who first observed this over 100 years ago.”

According to Charlton, the presence of these lines helped provide the foundation of quantum mechanical theory, which is one of the cornerstones of physics today.

“The Lyman-alpha line is of fundamental importance in physics and astronomy,” he said. “For example, observations in astronomy on how the line from distant emitters is shifted to longer wavelengths (known as the redshift), gives us information on how the universe evolves, and allows testing models which predict its future”

The data is another landmark in atomic physics that will pave the way for manipulating the kinetic energies that are trapped in anti-atoms.

“While studies have continued at the Antiproton Decelerator facility at CERN, further refining these measurements and using the techniques to improve our understanding of the antihydrogen through spectroscopy, the ALPHA team will be modifying the apparatus in order to study the effect of Earth’s gravity on the anti-atom,” Charlton said. “The next few months will be an exciting time for all concerned.”

The findings were published in Nature.

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Physics SCI

Physicists tied knots in a laser beam to study ‘holes’ in light

A team of physicists used holographic technology to tie knots in polarized light in order to study holes in the beams.

Although laser beams might appear to be single light streams, they are actually vibrating electromagnetic fields. Within these fields are photons that spin in different directions, and polarization describes the multidirectional properties of light.

In order to tie the light beams into knots, the team used the holographic technology that is used by polarized sunglass lens. To put it simply, they spun polarized filters.

“We are all familiar with tying knots in tangible substances such as shoelaces or ribbon,” said Mark Dennis, a physicist at the University of Bristol. “A branch of mathematics called ‘knot theory’ can be used to analyze such knots by counting their loops and crossings.”

“With light, however, things get a little more complex,” he added. “It isn’t just a single thread-like beam being knotted, but the whole of the space or ‘field’ in which it moves.”

And the crossings, crossings, and “holes” are what scientists are most interested in.

“From a maths point of view, it isn’t the knot that’s interesting, it’s the space around it,” Dennis said. “The geometric and spatial properties of the field are known as its topology.”

The team was also able to compare the knots with their real world predictions.

“One of the purposes of topology is to talk about showing data in terms of lines and surfaces,” Dennis said. “The real-world surfaces have a lot more holes than the maths predicted.”

The findings were published in Nature Physics.

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Physics Research SCI

Algorithm could uncover physics mysteries, study says

A team of scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created an algorithm that could help physicists answer some of the meaningful questions in proposed by the field of condensed matter. In particular, it will be important for pushing forward the emergent and novel properties in materials.

The algorithm inverts the standard mathematical process that condensed matter physicists usually use to search for new physics, starting with the answer (physical properties) and working backward to the question (the materials that host these properties).

Theoretical condensed matter physics is notoriously difficult for laypeople to understand due to the necessity of understanding material quantum mechanics. It typically begins with a Hamiltonian, which is a mathematical model that calculates the energies of all of the system’s particles.

“For a typical condensed matter problem, you start with a model, which comes out as a Hamiltonian, then you solve it, and you end up with a wave function—and you can see the properties of that wave function and see whether there is anything interesting,” said professor Bryan Clark, senior author of the study.

“This algorithm inverts that process,” he added. “Now, if you know the desired type of physics you would like to study, you can represent that in a wave function, and the algorithm will generate all of the Hamiltonians—or the specific models—for which we would get that set of properties. To be more exact, the algorithm gives us Hamiltonians with that wave function as an energy eigenstate.”

The team believes that the algorithm will help scientists find new physics and models.

The findings were published in Physical Review X.

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Physics SCI

Physicist argue there was no Big Bang singularity

The Big Bang theory is about four decades out of date. Scientists are sure there was not singularity associated with the hot Big Bang, and there may not have been a birth to space and time.

When we look out at the Universe today, we can see that it is full of galaxies. We also find that the more distant a galaxy is, the faster it appears to be receding from us.

It seems to be receding because the fabric of space is expanding. This means that as time marches on the matter within it spreads out and becomes less dense, since the volume of the universe increases.

If you were to envision back farther and farther in time, you would start to notice major changes in the Universe including an era where gravitation has not had enough time to pull matter into large enough clumps to have stars and galaxies

According to an article in Forbes Magazine by astrophysicist Ethan Siegel, we cannot extrapolate back arbitrarily far to a hot-and-dense state that reaches arbitrary energies. There is a limit to how far we can go and accurately describe the Universe.

In the early 1980s, scientists theorized that before the Universe was hot, dense, expanding, cooling, and full of matter and radiation, it was in a process of inflating. When inflation ended, it converted the energy that was inherent to space into matter and radiation that lead to the hot Big Bang.

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PHYS Physics

In quantum physics the future can affect the present

Quantum mechanics describes the strange behavior of photons, electrons and the other particles that make up the universe. Among its many outstanding mysteries, is the quandary of causality—whether events happen in a particular order. Generally, we experience things that seem to be triggered by earlier events. Astrophysicist Brian Koberlein writes, in an article for Forbes, that our lives follow a series of causes and effects—but, could an effect ever trigger a cause? In physics, this thought experiment is known as retrocausality. It is a concept of cause and effect where the effect precedes its cause in time.

In complex systems, order can be observed through entropy—basically the trajectory from ordered to disordered provides a clue about the direction of the event (e.g., a cup falling and shattering into a dozen pieces). However, there are quantum experiments where physicists try to mix up the order of cause and effect. As Koberlein explains it, quantum objects can sometimes behave similar to particles, and sometimes seem to behave like waves. These properties reveal themselves in different kinds of experiments. In the double slit experiment, when a beam of photons shines against a barrier with two slit openings, left unmeasured, the photons take on a wave behavior. However, if a detector is placed by each slit to measure which one each photon goes through, then the photons do behave like particles.

Things become fuzzier still in the delayed choice experiment, where you measure which slit each photon passes through, and measure where each photon strikes the distant screen, but before looking at the results, you destroy the data on which slit each photon passes through. In 1999, the experiment was conducted, and physicists discovered that delayed choice does determine the outcome. “[T]hat would mean destroying the data about the photons going through the slit would give the ‘wave’ interference pattern, even though the ‘particle’ data was collected at the time,” writes Koberlein. In other words, an effect can trigger a cause, and it is possible for the present to cause an outcome in the past.

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NWT_Energy PHYS Physics

Last reservoir of ordinary matter discovered

A team of international scientists have found the last batch of ordinary matter hiding out in the universe, a new study in the journal Nature reports.

Ordinary matter — also known as “baryons” — makes up all physical objects in existence. However, though astronomers have long know that, they have only been able to track down roughly two-thirds of the amount physicists predicted was created by the Big Bang.

For the new research, scientists discovered the last missing third in the space between galaxies. Research shows it exists as filaments of oxygen gas that sit at temperatures of roughly 1,800,000 degrees Fahrenheit. 

This discovery is extremely important for the field of astrophysics because it could create a much better picture of how the universe first came about.

“This is one of the key pillars of testing the Big Bang theory: figuring out the baryon census of hydrogen and helium and everything else in the periodic table,” said study co-author Michael Shull, a researcher at the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences (APS), according to Science Daily.

Roughly 10 percent of ordinary matter sits in galaxies and 60 percent is in diffuse clouds that hang between galaxies.

Back in 2012 researchers predicted the missing 30 percent sat in a web-like pattern known as the warm-hot intergalactic medium (WHIM).

To test that theory, the team in the new study pointed satellites at a quasar known as 1ES 1553. Such bodies are black holes that sit at the center of their galaxy. Analyzing them is important because, by seeing how quasar radiation moves through space scientists can track missing baryons.

Using such information from 1ES 1553, the team discovered signatures of a type of highly-ionized oxygen gas lying between the quasar and our solar system.

That accounts for the missing matter, which then helps build a much more complete picture of the universe. Both for how it came about and the way it go to its current state.

“[T]he missing baryons have been found,” wrote the team, according to Gizmodo.

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PHYS Physics

Without scientific data, ancient philosophers created theories that remain true today

Pre-Socratic philosophers pondered some of the more arcane questions of existence, sometimes coming up with answers that hold true today. Still, they are rarely credited with progress in the scientific field largely because they lacked scientific proof for their theories. According to Joe Carmichael in an article for Inverse, philosophy and science share a long, intertwined history, and these early philosophers were the Western world’s first empiricists.

Ancient philosophy professor at Brigham Young University, Daniel Graham, tells Inverse that these early philosophers have been discredited, because despite their incredible ideas, they had “no way of proving or disproving any of their theories.” The danger, Carmichael suggests, is that history will repeat itself and modern scientists may be ignored or repudiated by future researchers even if they uncover new paths to knowledge. Carmichael points to Parmenides, who developed a cosmology and was the first person in history to determine the earth’s true shape. Leucippus and Democritus, in late-5th-century B.C., hypothesized that atoms exist, while Anaxagoras discovered how eclipses work.

Graham believes that modern scientists should look to ancient philosophers as “soul mates” because they were people that already thought like scientists, even without access to the tools of science. “Proof follows conjecture,” Carmichael writes. In fact, concepts like the Big Bang began as speculation. The methodology of science is always the same, says Yasunori Nomura, a theoretical physics professor. “You just make the theories based on what you can measure.” As Carmichael puts it, scientists ought to consider any theory that is robust, steeped in evidence, and falsifiable.

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NWT_Energy PHYS Physics

Time travel might be possible after all

As strange as it might sound, scientists from Ohio State University believe that time travel may one day be possible. Not only that, but they believe we might be much closer than many think.

Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity states that time changes based on how fast someone moves through it. That idea is at the core of the new theory.

“The faster you move through space, the slower you move through time,” said Paul Sutter, an astrophysicist at Ohio State University, according to Tech Times.

Scientists previously found that astronauts living on the International Space Station move faster through time than people on Earth. As a result, they age slower than normal humans. In fact, cosmonaut Gennady Padalka — who spent 879 days in space — found that when he returned to Earth it was 1/44 of a second into the future.

In that way, he was a tiny bit in the past.

Using that principle, researchers believe the Large Hadron Collider is an example of a time machine. The giant device shoots protons at the speed of light, which makes their relative speed through time roughly 6,900 times slower compared to human observers.

That discrepancy is interesting because it is the closest science has ever come to time travel. It may only be a fraction of a second difference, but it is a start. The goal is one day to send humans through time, but that is still an extremely long way off.

The above examples show that it could one day be possible. However, scientists are not sure quite how it could be possible. There are many gaps between where science is and Einstein’s theories, but researchers hope more research will slowly close such voids in knowledge.

“When it comes to the past the mathematics of general relativity does allow a few strange scenarios where you can end up in your own past,” added Sutter, according to Space.com. “But all of these scenarios end up violating other known physics, like requiring negative mass or infinitely long rotating cylinders. Why does general relativity allow past time travel, but other physics always jump in to spoil the fun? We honestly don’t know.”

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PHYS Physics Science

Large Hadron Collider detects rare particle decays

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva has been back to smashing protons at high speeds since the completion of its two-year refit for greater power potential. CERN scientists recently reported evidence of particle decays that had been predicted but had never been detected.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the decay pattern observed “could help researchers test the limits of the standard model of particle physics and probe unexplained cosmic phenomena, including the existence of dark matter and the dearth of antimatter in the universe.”

“From the scientific standpoint, this is big, heady stuff. All the puzzles of physics could fall into place or they could just remain mysteries based on what we learn from these decays,” LHC researcher Joel Butler of Fermilab said. “This is kind of a fantastic time in physics, where many mysteries might get resolved.”

While the standard model of particle physics aligns well with previously detected particles like the Higgs boson, it does not adequately explain the nature and behavior of dark matter, dark energy or antimatter. Dark matter is not directly detectable and is thought to account for much of the mass and therefore gravitational influence in the universe. Dark energy is believed to be the force behind the universe’s increasing rate of expansion. Antimatter is thought to have been created alongside matter, but according to traditional models, matter and antimatter should have destroyed one another by now.

The type of particles involved in the groundbreaking decay observations are known as neutral B mesons, which decay quickly into other particles. Mesons are made up of quarks, of which there are six known types. The research team looked at data collected by the LHC concerning the decay rates of two types of B meson, one of which performed at a rate similar to what the standard model predicts, and one of which decayed at a rate almost four times higher than predicted.

Butler noted that the discrepancy could possibly be attributed to the small sample size of data regarding the oddly performing B meson. “If that holds up, it will be very interesting, but for right now, it’s best explained as a statistical fluke. It’s got our attention, let’s put it that way,” Butler said.

The team will be collecting more data to explore which particle behaviors remain in keeping with the standard model and which particle decays either support or rule out theories within supersymmetry. Supersymmetry is a model of particle physics which assumes that each particle has a more massive “superparticle” twin, which would decay quickly into more stable and less massive particles. Under the auspices of supersymmetry, the lightest and most stable of these particles could be the elusive form of dark matter.

The results were published in the journal Nature.